[19 June 2010]
Some critics throw around the adjective “psychedelic” at the drop of a hat, at the first sign of a stereo-panned guitar or reverb-drenched vocal. Lots of bands carry the term in their descriptive suitcases, but are they truly worthy of this honor? Enter the Internal Tulips, a collaborative project between Brad Laner and Alex Graham, two former electronic artists on holiday set on congealing their obsessions with the dreamy music of their forefathers, mainly Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles and post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys. Don’t be thrown off by the ridiculous album title—Mislead into a Field by a Deformed Deer is no joke, a truly psychedelic album that earns the label the hard way: by creating melodies that sound simultaneously foreign and completely familiar, by crafting songs buried in layers of lavish sonic detail that reveal themselves more with each peel of the onion.
Harps flutter; mysterious fuzz crackles discreetly; vintage synths ooze fake horns and strings. These keyboard-dominated space flights are meticulously crafted and focus more on sound than song, resulting in an album that flows seamlessly from start to finish, but also one where the parts are frequently indistinguishable. This is weird, elegant music to fall asleep to, but the very best moments are the ones that jolt you out of your euphoric slumber. With “Mr. Baby”, the mainly percussion-free proceedings suddenly turn rhythmic, as the pair craft an excellent, stereo-engulfing beat from random noises and electronic bleeps that supports an absolutely beautiful (if slightly demented) piano ballad with randomly interjected vocal samples (at one point, a woman angrily remarks, “She already got all of my George Harrison albums!”).
Though heavily influenced by the obvious legends of yore, closer reference points are late ‘90s Flaming Lips and the goofier side of the Besnard Lakes. Mostly, though, the Internal Tulips are mining their own unique field of haunting, spectral beauty. Psychedelic? This is the definition.